Thursday, December 31, 2009


Every Christmas my Mom usually buys plaster ornaments for us to paint. This year, we actually did the salt ones instead, but Daddy bought me some plaster figures instead! Instead of doing the same paint routine, I decided to see what would happen if we used markers on them.

The results were pretty interesting. Because the plaster we used wasn't sealed in any way, the markers soaked really easily into the plaster and bled pretty seriously. After some trial and error, I realized that the big background could be done in marker, and then paint used to detail over it (this allowed me to skip the wait between drying paint layers). Also, marker worked really well on top of the paint, so I could have done paint for the major color (green on the tree, brown on the gingerbread house, etc) and then colored over the details, but the darker the color the more difficult it is to color or paint over it (obviously).

Anyway, these little guys came from Cost Plus World Market (silly Daddy left the price tag on! :) but you can get plaster for painting at pretty much any craft store (Michaels, Joann's, etc).

Have fun!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow Day

When Daddy told me we were going to the snow I got really excited despite my dislike of snow and the cold, because I thought it would be the perfect chance to make something! My original plan was to make a snow castle (a couple of turrets, a nice big wall, maybe a tiny dragon...) but it turns out the snow was way too dry to build anything with, so the best I could do was a snow angel...

But I still want to talk about snow!! There are some really cool things you can try, like loading up a spray bottle with cold water and food coloring to give a snow man clothes or adding old clothes to him. Plus, there's this really cool thing where you put a coat on a snowman and the snow under the coat melts slower than everything else because of the insulation the coat provides.

I wanted to do a castle because I love sand castles, but I always have a hard time getting sand to do what I want, and snow is a lot more malleable...when it's wetter than it was when we went. Maybe even try taking your beach toys and see what happens!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Look! I'm learning to crochet! It's surprisingly easy, and I'm wondering if that's because I already know how to knit. I'm using a book that someone gave me for Christmas to learn, but you could also try this site. As you can see, I'm not brilliant at it, but it's way fun, and it's easy enough to pull stitches out if I mess up. Very nice!

Monday, December 28, 2009

3D Puzzles

I love buying the little kits you see in stores, so my boyfriend and I picked up some Creatology Wooden Puzzles to play with. I bought a dragon with a little man riding on his back, and he bought a Tiger. To try to make them little cooler than just a straight up puzzle, we decided to color them using basic washable markers and I think they turned out pretty excellent! You'll notice mine has no little man-- because no self-respecting dragon would let someone ride on his back!

(I tried to find a link for you, but I couldn't. I found these little guys at Micheal's though, trust me!)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ice Princess

I finished another knitting pattern last night! It's called the "Ice Queen" and it's a pretty neck warmer and head protector thingy...and anyway, I love it. I haven't worked much with lace before, but I had a lot of fun with this project. I recommend starting with something small like a bookmark first, so that you get the hang of working with the yarn, and them moving on to something larger. I also highly recommend wooden needles for lace yarn-- the yarn seems to stick too much to metal needles.

The only things I majorly changed with this pattern is the beads. The pattern calls for beads through the whole piece, but I could picture them getting caught in my hair, so I left them out after the first three or four inches.

Hope you had a great Christmas!! Mine isn't over yet-- one more family member to see :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Salmon for Dinner

My boyfriend and I cooked the other night, and while I started with this recipe, we turned out to not have everything to make it.

In the marinade we put;

A couple "shakes" of garlic/parsley salt (I don't really like garlic)
A tablespoon of pepper
6 tablespoons of canola oil
A tablespoon of salt
A few "shakes" of vinegar (instead of lemon juice...bad idea?)

Place salmon in foil, cover with marinade, bake for 35-45 mins.

We had ours with fresh broccoli and boxed rice...dinner for kings.

And hey! Even improvised it turned out ok :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas '09

Merry Christmas!!!
I hope everyone is having a fabulous time with their families :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dollar Store Wrapping

I know earlier I did a post on FREE wrapping, but if you don't feel too creative, the dollar store is another great place to buy wrapping paper. We bought 6 rolls of wrap, 4 boxes, a bag of white tissue paper, 4 rolls of cellophane, and a huge roll of ribbon for less than 15 dollars. The only thing to be careful of is the amount of paper on each roll. While a regular priced roll of paper wraps multiple gifts, a dollar store roll might wrap two gifts-- if they're small. The only main benefit of this is that you can do several gifts in all different wrapping and not have tons left over.

Mom uses dollar store wrap as a medium for making Christmas boxes. She picks up the wooden boxes from Micheals and then paints glue over the pictures cut from the paper. This way, the box is just as cool of a gift as the thing inside!

Many many ways to make cheap paper go a long way :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Molasses Cookies

I'm a pretty big fan of handmade gifts, and when my boyfriend said that he was expected to get gifts for all his family members, I thought cookies were the perfect solution. Even more so because I have been working a little on the molasses cookie recipe!

I started with this recipe but then changed it up a bit;

2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup washed raw sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses (the stronger flavor, the better)
2 cups whole wheat unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Mix wet ingredients, add dry ingredients. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

In the future I plan on trying sorghum for the stronger flavor, but I have yet to find it in any grocery stores. Many of the changes I made were just to make the cookies darker, because I think darker cookies are prettier.

I plated them on cheap Christmas paper plates, wrapped them in cheap celophane, and after adding one of our salt ornaments to the bows, we will have very pretty and VERY tasty Christmas presents for everyone :)

Doing sugar cookies allows the cookies to be family activities with decorations and all, but it also makes them more difficult to package.

Merry Christmas!! I hope you're having as amazing of a time as I am :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pretty Suckers!

I have to admit-- I didn't even KINDA have this idea on my own...and I didn't modify it a bit. So instead of reading what I have to say about how awesome it is and how much I love it, why don't you go see how the professionals do it?

While you're there, you should look at the rest of the Decorated Cookie posts...time allowing :) That blog has a million and one awesome ideas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gingerbread houses

I love gingerbread houses-- especially if they're not houses! Me and my family are having a competition this year! I can't show all the creations, but this is a picture of my train :)

Recipes here.

Other variations can be better for kids. Start with cream cartons and Graham Crackers to skip the long baking and cooling process-- and to limit frustration. Hit the dollar store for pretty candies to decorate, and use any extras in tiny packages to have the kids take to neighbors. If you don't want the gingerbread sitting around for long periods of time, the kids can even eat it, but leaving it out lets it collect dust (which gives you an excuse to throw it away without anyone getting a sugar high from it).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mulled Wine

This is one of the best hot drinks ever! I had this the first time in Paris in the winter, and this is only the second time I've ever had it. It's so much better when it's homemade! Probably because half the fun is making it :)

1 orange (sliced)
8 cloves
1 liter bottle dry red wine
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 lemon (sliced)
2 cinnamon sticks

Simmer for 30-40 minutes (do not boil!). For a kid-friendly version, leave out the wine and replace with equal quantity apple cider. A very different desert drink from regular hot cider or hot chocolate!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Salt Dough Ornaments

I am so excited about Christmas!! Today we made salt ornaments, 4 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, and 2 cups of water-- but a half batch would have been plenty! I got lots of ideas from here but some of my favorites are where i painted the ornament a solid color and then sprinkled things on them. Watered down paint looks great with salt, and regular paint looks really cool with flour sprinkled on them. I also love doing garlands of salt dough ornaments, but I had to be careful to make sure they're not too heavy. This was a really fun family activity; there's nothing harmful in the dough, and it's really entertaining. Plus, it's a cheap way to decorate a tree, and having ornaments on the tree made by the children makes them feel important!! All together successful :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Homemade Wrapping Paper

So after my last final yesterday, I drove up to Mom's house, and this is what she showed me. Isn't it beautiful? She took leaves out of her yard and weighted them with bolts before spray panting over them all. I think this is definitly a cool approach to making everything yourself!

As an added bonus, the leaves turned out amazing, so she saved them all and we've been using them with bows as package tie-ons! Now you know where I get my creativity :)

In case you missed it, my previous wrapping post is here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Updated Cozies!!

Major Update! I mess up so you don't have to :)

So in the last post on Cup Cozies I said that I was going to do fancy ones for girls and plain stockinette ones for boys...and then I made the fancy ones are realized that the plain ones weren't stretchy enough to fit over a cup!! I've been working with heavy yarns or worsted yarns doubled and size 9 double points, and I would recommend 30 or more cast on stitches. Increasing three stitches every inch is still good, but be very careful about the cast off! If it's too tight, it will end up being the bottom of the cup, even if you have increased. To keep the cast on loose, either don't pull anything tight or go up a couple sizes of needle to cast off...or both! I've also been told that there are streachier cast-offs available...but I haven't tried any yet! Maybe for my next project...

Maybe if you still can't keep the cast-off loose you can turn the whole project on its head and knit from the top down? That way the stiff cast-off could be the bottom of the cup, no problem. If you still want to do increases you would start with 36 stitches and DECREASE by three stitches every inch.

Good luck!! Stay crafty ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have something a little different to show today; less of a craft, and more of a "find." I think lockets are beautiful, and they kind of symbolize this romantic pretty era that we don't really have anymore, so I've wanted one for awhile. However, the ones I like are generally around $60 and I really can't afford that kind of thing.

The other day, I went to a craft fair, and one of the booths was selling old jewelry, and there was this ugly pair of earrings with cupids on them and lockets hanging from their feet!! I hated the earrings, but I loved the lockets! So I bought them ($1.50!) pulled the lockets, and strung them on a chain I already had at home. The cupids got tossed-- baby angels aren't really my thing-- but I supposed I could have re-gifted them to someone!

Pretty much I'm just saying- Keep your eyes out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Wrapping

So, as a college student, I have a fairly tight budget and I'm always looking for pretty ways to save money. I personally think that Christmas wrap is a great place to save. This year, I took only materials I already had around the house to use for wrap. There are a few I'd like to point out; The wine bottle is wrapped in the brown paper bag that the store slips it into when they give it to you. My brother just added the bow, which is a ribbon we had around from last year. The package with snowflakes is a bag from Urban Outfitters that i added snowflakes to (made from computer paper) and punched holes in the top to add ribbon. All the other gifts are wrapped with brown paper grocery bags, which I cut flat before wrapping with them. Because the paper is so thick, the tape doesn't stick very well, which means that the ribbon is actually key to holding the package together (which I rather like). I've also used paint and glitter to decorate instead of ribbon.

I would like, when I have kids, to do this again, except make a big project with it. I would cut sponges into stamps and use green, red, blue, and white paint and let the kids decorate the paper. Let it dry, and wrap it up! That way, the wrapping is just as special as the gift.

There is just no limit to the fabulous things that can be done with no money at all :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Clay Crafts

So yesterday my brother and I fired some things we had made out of stoneware. I made a couple of ornaments for Stacey's birthday, a little black bud vase, and a tiny clay kitten for my boyfriend's stocking (he said he wanted a cat, but didn't trust his roomies around one :p). Alex made the pencil holder.

We tried some new things with the glazes this time. I cut patterns into my pieces before glazing them, and the shiny glazes fell into those cuts very well, while the flat glazes didn't really make that element pop. Also, we used tape to make some designs. My brother's pencil holder has a cool, very subtle design in it, because he taped off sections of it before painting the glaze on.

My brother and I were lucky to fall into a tiny kiln and 50 pounds of stoneware clay, but if you're not so lucky, there are storebought clays that bake hard in the oven and fabulous salt clays that can be mixed with spices like cinnamon to smell good AND look good. The kiln is a good grown-up toy, but the salt clays are fabulous kid crafts, and can be used with cookie cutters and regular kitchen supplies. Take a look at one of my favorite blogs for more awesome salt clay ideas!

Another (more expensive) idea is to find a store that sells unpainted clay items to paint and fire in store, like Paint A Dream. It's fun, no mess, and gives kids an item to take home that they made. However, pieces range from $18 and up, and the pieces aren't ready for several days after they're painted.

I'm so excited about Christmas...I hope your preparations are going great!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Birthday Not-Cake

So at knitting group today, we're halfway celebrating my friend, Stacey's, birthday. I thought it would be appropriate to do something special for her, but was a little challenged to find something "birthday-ish" that would fit within her diet-- and she is SO proud of herself, I didn't want to ruin the solution? I decided to put together a pretty bowl of fruit for her "birthday cake". It's beautiful, AND it tastes good-- plus it's healthy! I picked a good variety of pears, apples, and oranges, plus a small box of raspberries, because it gave a range of colors and flavors. Plus, it took me a fraction of the time baking a cake would have, AND I spend less than twenty dollars. Not bad, not bad... :)

Today we're firing our kiln... I'll post pictures of the results tomorrow!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cup Cozies

Last night I started on my brother's knitted gift, these fancy little cup cozies for disposable cups that he can keep in his truck. I was surprised at how quick they knitted up, and I'm planning on doing a lot more than I originally thought-- Especially because they take up my scrap yarn! The pattern suggests adding cool designs into the fabric to make it a little fancier. I left that part out for the ones I made for my brother, but if I do many more, I might look into it!

She has some other great ideas for turning the cozies into great office gifts, too...check it out!

The picture shows a red cozy with worsted yarn, 27 stiches cast on size 2 needles. The brown is worsted with 36 stitches cast on, and the blue is a chunky yarn with 30 stitches. I increased three stitches every inch, evenly spaced through the rows. Very very happy with this pattern :)

Edit: Updated!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holy Bliss!!

I am finally finished with my red sweater!! I swear, I have been working tirelessly on this thing for nearly three whole months and it feels so good to get it done.

While the sweater (the Basic Black Cardigan on was fairly simple, the button band gave me half a dozen problems. If I ever do another sweater, I am going to have to try something else, because my cast off is just too tight for a button band to be practical. My knitting group suggested casting off out of pattern and with a size larger needles, and after a good blocking that seemed to work fine.

I was just too sick of it to want to get it just perfect without blocking, and I figure there's nothing wrong with a blocked band.

The picture is a close up of the button band and the cute buttons I found at JoAnn's. No full pictures until after Mommy unwraps it at Christmas!!